Lawsuit filed against Madison Police Officer Stephen Heimsness - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lawsuit filed against Madison Police Officer Stephen Heimsness


MADISON (WKOW)-- Family members of Paul Heenan say they want justice. So they're suing the man who killed him, former Madison police officer Stephen Heimsness.

The city of Madison and Police Chief Noble Wray were also included in the suit. Lawyers argue they're liable because of the way they handled the case

"The civil justice system is the last resort for justice in this country for people who see a terrible injustice done to their family," Heenan family lawyer Jeff Scott Olson says.

Olson argues that Heimsness used excessive force and violated Heenan's fourth amendment right the night he shot and killed him.

District Attorney Ismael Ozanne cleared Heimsness in the case. The Madison Police Department agreed that Heimsness's actions followed department policy.

The Heenan family's 60 page complaint however, argues Madison Police Chief Noble Wray is liable because they feel he ignored several previous complaints against Heimsness.

"He effectively contributed to the death of Paul Heenan by really ignoring or white-washing numerous complaints of similar misconduct on the part of officer Heimsness," Olson says.

In an unrelated investigation Chief Wray looked into the previous conduct of officer Heimsness. He found several incidents where he did violate department policy through inappropriate messages and comments he shared with co-workers. Heimsness later agreed to retire or quit as of November 23rd.

The Heenan family's complaint also claims the City of Madison is liable for allowing an unconstitutional deadly force policy. In their complaint it reads, "The city and chief Wray simply turned a blind eye and failed to take any meaningful response and the inadequacy of the city's response was so likely to cause and actually did cause the violations of other citizens rights."

Attorneys will most likely be provided by the City of Madison, not by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, which is representing Heimsness in a complaint filed with Madison's Police and Fire Commission.

27 News tried to contact the Madison City Attorney and the city's insurance company, which handles liability cases like this. Our calls have not been returned at this time.


UPDATE (WKOW) --- The lawsuit has been filed against Madison Police Officer Stephen Heimsness, the City of Madison, and Madison Police Chief Noble Wray.

Jeff Olson, the lawyer for Paul Heenan's family, tells 27 News the lawsuit was filed just after 2 p.m. today.

READ the complaint here.

We are following this story on 27 News at 5 & 6 as well as here on



MADISON (WKOW) -- The lawyer for the relatives of Paul Heenan tells 27 News the family is suing the officer who shot Heenan, as well as suing the City of Madison.

Jeff Olson told 27 News on Wednesday he would be filing the suit Thursday in federal court in Madison.

Dispute comes from Heenan's family who say that the 30-year-old was drunk when entering a neighbor's home.  Officer Stephen Heimsness said he fired after Heenan grabbed at his gun.

The Dane County district attorney cleared Heimsness of the shooting.

Heimsness has since agreed to retire or quit as of Nov. 23.

We will keep you updated when the suit is filed.

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